Samford ministers to people of Dominicacomment (0)
August 7, 2014
By Maggie Walsh
When Samford University in Birmingham accepted the challenge to Shoe a Nation in March, it was about more than just footwear (see story in the June 5 issue of The Alabama Baptist).
The 6,000 pairs of shoes bought for the people of Dominica was important, but it was secondary to the mission of the 19 Samford volunteers who served in the country July 19–27, said Martin Newton, director of athletics at Samford.
“We were there to tell them the good news of Jesus Christ and ... that Christ loves them — that they do have hope and a future,” Newton said.
The Shoe a Nation project was a collaborative effort between Samaritan’s Feet in Charlotte, N.C.; First Baptist Church, Indian Trail, N.C.; Caribbean Baptist Youth Festival; Samford and various Dominican churches that served as distribution centers July 24–25.
The scheduling of this missions trip was unique because not all members of Samford’s team arrived in Dominica together. Some team members arrived as early as July 19, while others had staggered arrival dates between then and their return date of July 27.
Once in Dominica, members of Samford’s team took on various projects to make their time in the southern Caribbean country count.
‘Power of a moment’
Brad Radice, team member and director of broadcast media at Samford, said, “Don’t ever underestimate the power of a moment. You never know when God’s going to use you.”
During the eight-day missions trip, Samford’s team helped build two houses, painted a homeless shelter, hosted a health fair, collaborated with the Caribbean Baptist Youth Festival for evening events, distributed 6,000 pairs of shoes and ministered to juvenile delinquents.
Colin Coyne, team member and chief strategy officer at Samford, said, “Exhaustion never felt so good.”
During the shoe distribution, volunteers from all of the partnering organizations joined together to ensure that every child who came to one of the 19 distribution centers left with a pair of shoes.
Radice said, “The mobs of people outside [the distribution centers] were incredible. I can tell you about it and I can show you pictures, but until you see it firsthand it’ll never impact you.”
Before receiving shoes, every child had their feet washed by a volunteer while learning about the love of Christ.
While it was a very organized trip, complications and schedule changes were inevitable.
Coyne said, “‘Don’t forget for a minute Whose plan this is’ was the constant refrain in my mind. Every time something didn’t happen as planned, something better came out of it.”
A perfect example of this was the impromptu visit to the juvenile detention center, he said.
An administrative member of the center called and requested that members of the Shoe a Nation project come speak to the youth after learning of their time in Dominica.
Former Samford student athlete Jeremy Towns accepted the spur-of-the-moment call to speak to the youth.
Newton said, “It was definitely a God thing. [Jeremy] did an incredible job of connecting with [the youth]. It was something I’ll never forget.”
As “poignant” as that moment was, there were 100 moments like that, Coyne said
For example, several members of the team recounted Patrick Hatcher’s kindness when he gave a Dominican volunteer the shoes off his own feet. This act of kindness brought the volunteer to tears.
Hatcher, director of operations and facilities for Samford Athletics, said, “To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about how it would emotionally affect [the person I gave my shoes to] until the ride home. Thinking back I can understand how that could have been the first pair of tennis shoes he ever owned.”
For Coyne, the trip was one of “the most God-filled” experiences of his life. A trip that will definitely be repeated, he noted.
For information on how to contribute to Shoe a Nation, email Colin Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org.